Coffee? Maybe you should sleep on it…

By October 6, 2010R is for Research

We’re in Week Four of classes at DePaul University, and you know what that means: coffee!  With midterms just around the corner, students are more likely to meet their coffee maker in order to survive those last-minute all-nighters.  But how much caffeine is too much?

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus, “the amount of caffeine in two to four cups of coffee a day is not harmful.”  In fact, that surge of energy we all know and love often boosts alertness.

So, time to forget about sleep and stock up on Red Bull, Venom, and double-shots?  Not so fast…

Although the caffeinated rush may not be harmful in and of itself, timing is crucial.  A study conducted by the University of California, San Diego found that caffeine actually has negative impacts on cognitive performance as compared to sleep and naps, which stimulate memory and learning.  Meaning that shot of espresso might actually be shooting holes in your midterm essay when it’s not being written after a full eight hours rest.

So when it comes to studying for that exam or writing that big paper, don’t let Mr. Coffee get in the way of Mr. Sandman.  Be sure to plan ahead, bring those drafts into the Writing Center, and finish long before the deadline with a victory cup o’ joe and an early bedtime, because if there’s anything that isn’t healthy for body, mind, or grades, it’s procrastination.

For information about caffeine, visit or explore the MedlinePlus website.